A Month of Pairs – INTERVIEW – The McClanes

It is duo’s month and so it is only right that we delve into the world of Twoprov this February. Over the next few weeks we are talking to a variation of improv acts up and down the country to find out the ins and outs of being part of a twoprov troupe. Today, I speak to Alex and Seamus of the Reading based Twoprov act The McClanes.

Hello tell us all about who you all are and a little bit about yourselves?

Seamus: I’m Seamus Allen. I’m a performer and director and head of acting at Read college as well as the resident young company Director at the Watermill theatre.  I do Improv and am a single dad to two kids. Oh, and I started up and run What’s the Game?! Improv, the only training ground for Improvisation in Reading

Alexander: I’m Alexander McWilliam. I’m an actor, improviser and teacher from Reading. I work at Read College and a few other colleges around Reading. I started Mad Monkey Improv (a short form based troupe) just over 5 years ago and we’ve been performing all over ever since!

What style of Improv do you do?

Seamus: Every style, but our twoprov show is longform.

What sort of suggestions do you ask the audience for in your show?

Seamus: We ask for the underscore for our show, basically the soundtrack.  Music tracks that they feel would not feel out of place in an awesome Indie movie, and then we use these tracks as inspiration for each scene and the overall narrative.  This is all helped along by our marvellous technician John Dukes.

What is the best thing about being in a twoprov?

Seamus: It’s really freeing. Alex and I have worked together for a while and we have a strong sense of each others rhythms and that can really allow you to explore on stage, going beyond just the comedy and also explore character and narrative.

Alexander: We get to go into more detail with every character. Because there is only two of us those same characters are very likely to come back for a few scenes. We get to create lots of character arcs. After working together for a while we know what we can both do etc.

What is the most challenging?

Seamus: The first line. It’ll create a whole world, and as soon as it’s done, the show just gains it’s own life, but right before it’s said there’s a delicious tension

Alexander: I would agree. It’s that first moment. It’s like you’re just about to jump out of a plane. But we’ve managed to build up a level of trust with each other that whatever happens “we’ve got each other’s backs”.

What will makes you different to other twoprov acts out there?

Seamus: We’re quite different to each other (culturally, physically, age…height) and I feel that the place we connect is quite unique.  Also, because underscore is integral to the show, the performances are quite physical.

Alexander: Yes we are. I’m 6 ft 5” English guy, and Seamus is a shorter Irish man. Which means we can have a lot of fun physically too. In every show there is usually some form of physical scene with lifts involved. So the size difference helps!

What advice would you give for people thinking about starting an twoprov troupe themselves?

Seamus: Get your hours in.  Work together a lot.  You need to have a strong connection with your partner.

Alexander: 100%! You need to have that level of trust and connection with your improv partner that you know where your minds are going. Get those hours in!

What have been some of your specifically favourite scenes you have created so far in a show and why?

Seamus: Alex does a brilliant “Old woman” character and she ended up being my mother in a final scene, who I smothered and then flew out of a window.  (Improv scenes are hard to describe in retrospect without them sounding insane)

Alexander: Seamus is a great clown. Especially with the physical stuff like mimes and falls. My favourite scene we’ve done so far is this one. https://youtu.be/Q5O0ecrmEIg?t=1439

What other twoprov groups are you a fan of and why?

Seamus: TJ and Dave of course.  They’re sublime. A few years ago I had the pleasure to work with the Sufferettes at the london Improvathon, and I’ve not seen better improv since. They own the stage and each scene beautifully.

Alexander: TJ and Dave too!

Tell us about the sort of rehearsals you do to get ready for a show?

Seamus: Errr. Pass

Alexander: Haha, well…we don’t really have a set rehearsal plan for the show. What we do is just get the hours in doing twoprov scenes, and creating character arcs. It’s been years of working together that is coming together.

Do you have any pre show rituals – if so what are they?

Seamus: I’m really distracting and I’m guessing quite annoying

Alexander: Trying to calm down the over excited Irishman haha! I’m usually in producer mode up until the show begins. But we have a house troupe that plays some short form games before we perform. I find that that time helps me to refocus on the show, and switch from producer mode to performer mode.

What are your aims for your troupe for the improv in 2019?

Seamus: Get out there and bring the show to new audiences as well as new troupes

Alexander: We’re looking at performing shows more regularly, but also in new locations too, bringing in different troupes for each show to be the house troupe. At every McClanes show we shall be raising money for a local charity. So instead of buying a ticket to watch the show, the show is Pay What You Want, and then at the end we shall collect donations for each charity.

It’s the month of looooovveeeee so what things do you love about improv and why?

Seamus: It’s absolute freedom.  It’s rock and roll for us actors that aren’t in a band.

Alexander: That I get to create anything and everything out of nothing. Just the random thoughts in our heads.

If people want to find out more about you where can they follow you on social media?

Seamus: What’s the Game Improv?! on Facebook.

Alexander: Mad Monkey Improv on Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Instagram. We’re in the process of setting up our Twitter and Instagram accounts for The McClanes. You can find all of our shows on the Mad Monkey Improv Youtube channel.

In three words why should people come and see you perform?

Seamus:We Kick Ass

Alexander: Everything Is Awesome (Lego Movie Tune!)

DUO QUICK FIRE SPECIAL

If you could be any famous duo from TV, Film or Music what would your twoprov be and why?

Seamus: David Bowie and Mick Jagger from “Dancin in the streets

Alexander: Dennis and Lonny in Rock of Ages – Their duet “Can’t fight this feeling” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ceHPFvCwoCQ

Who creates the craziest improv characters?

Seamus: Alex

Alexander: Seamus

What is your favourite thing about one another?

Seamus: Alex’s clear insight and damn fine professionalism

Alexander: His openness, support, and Trust. He’s been a true mentor to be over these years both professionally and personally. And I’m proud to call him my friend.

What is the thing that the other would go viral for?

Seamus: Crazy Dancing

Alexander: Clowning – mainly falling over. He is an excellent clown. A master of physical comedy.

You have £50 in your pocket to buy the other a present – what would you get them and why?

Seamus:A selfie drone.

Alexander: The hottest hot sauce I can find.

If you had to release a duet – what would the song be and why?

Seamus: I had the time of my life, We’ve spent ages trying to perfect that bloody lift

Alexander: Ditto! Or “I can’t fight this feeling” from rock of ages above!

The toughest question of all – last rolo – would you keep it or give it to your twoprov buddy?

Seamus: Give it.  GLADLY

Alexander: Always.

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